A 2,400-pound, 24-foot-long bronze skeleton of an Edmontosaurus annectens—a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur—was installed today outside the front entrance of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture as part of the museum’s fiftieth anniversary celebration.
Its selection is fitting because the Edmontosaurus is a hadrosaur, and these types of dinosaurs once roamed the coastal plains of Tennessee. The McClung Museum also houses actual hadrosaur bones—the only non-avian dinosaur bones ever found in the state—in its Geology and Fossil History of Tennessee permanent exhibit.
“The dinosaur will be both an educational centerpiece and a symbol of the immense time depth of life on this planet,” said McClung Museum Director Jefferson Chapman.
Chapman hopes the new addition will also help enhance the interest of campus and school-age students in the wide range of exhibits offered throughout the year. The museum welcomes more than 10,000 individuals including student and community groups as part of its educational and outreach programming each year.
The Edmontosaurus will be an exciting new draw for people of all ages, he said.
The total cost of the dinosaur will be less than $200,000. All funds are being raised through private donations, including $25,000 from Knox County.
The dinosaur skeleton was cast this year by Art Castings of Colorado from skeletal molds from Triebold Paleontology Inc. and the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center in Woodland Park, Colorado. It traveled more than 1,300 miles by flatbed trailer to UT.
Thriving in the late Cretaceous period about 66 to 65 million years ago, the Edmontosaurus was a large, plant-eating dinosaur with powerful legs, hoof-like nails, and a leathery hide with zebra-like patterning on the tail. It could run on two legs or walk on four legs, weighed approximately 7,000 to 8,000 pounds and reached up to 40 feet in length.
The actual fossilized dinosaur that the McClung Museum’s bronze cast is based upon was discovered in South Dakota in 1995 by paleontologists. That Edmontosaurus probably died of wounds sustained after being attacked and bitten on the throat, possibly by a Tyrannosaurus rex.
The bronze dinosaur will live outside the museum among native plants that descend from the Cretaceous era.
A variety of dinosaur-related programs will take place throughout the calendar year, including an October 27 talk on early ornithischian dinosaurs by Marc Spencer, a Marshall University expert.
The museum also will host a contest on its website to help name the McClung’s new resident. The public is encouraged to submit dinosaur names by November 8 online.
Several names will be chosen and then the public will be invited to vote on the final name for the dinosaur. Additionally, museum visitors and the UT community are encouraged to take photos with the dinosaur and share them on social media with the hashtag #mcclungdino.
The McClung Museum’s exhibits include archaeology, ancient Egypt, decorative arts, the Civil War in Knoxville, freshwater mussels, and geology and fossils. It also features other dinosaur-related collections, including real fossilized dinosaur eggs, hadrosaur teeth, and an ornithopod footprint.
The museum is located at 1327 Circle Park Drive. It is open Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Free two-hour museum parking passes are available from the parking information building at the entrance to Circle Park Drive. Parking passes are not needed on the weekends.
For more information about the McClung Museum and its collections and exhibits, visit the website.
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